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We have already defined prayer as a two-way deep and intimate relationship with God, where there is effective two-way communication -- e.g., you talk to Him and He talks to you. We also took a look at a few aspects of intercession, which included petitioning for others in our role as a high priest, standing in the gap on behalf of another, and coming into agreement with God's will for a person, group or event.
With all that in mind, how do we pray effectively? How do we build that intimacy with God in our personal prayer? And what about corporate prayer? How do we pray effectively together?
I would like to begin to explore those questions by presenting two different prayer models to you. One is a model for personal prayer and the other is a model for corporate prayer, or praying together with others. We will spend the next two lessons looking at the personal prayer model and then spend the following lesson on corporate prayer.
Please understand that there are many excellent models for prayer. I am only sharing one personal prayer model and one corporate prayer model with you. This is not to say that they are better than the other models or should be used to the exclusion of all other models. My intent is to give you a model that works well, so that you can begin to experiment with it if you don't already have a different model that you prefer to use.
A PERSONAL PRAYER/INTERCESSION MODEL
This model is built on the concept that prayer is a two way relationship with God. It understands that we can (and often do) come to God with prayer agendas, but there will be times where God decides to supercede our prayer agenda with His own agenda. These concepts are built into this prayer model. It is meant to be flexible. It is a tool you build and launch from, not a rigid set of rules to hold you back or to grind you into a routine.
There are six basic steps to this model. They do not necessarily have to be done in the order presented here.
Step 1 - Praise And Worship
The purpose is to remind yourself of what God has done for you and then to thank Him for it. Think about Who you are praying to. Think about the good things He has done for you and be grateful. Remember past answers to prayers and thank Him for what He's done. Let your mind dwell on times where He has been good to you, where He has come through for you, where He has brought His glory into seemingly impossible situations.
There are lots of wonderful praise and worship prayers in the Bible. You might want to rephrase and personalize some of them as a worship for God. For instance, I have personalized one of Paul's prayers from 1 Cor. 1:4-9. "Thank You Lord for the grace that You gave me by Christ Jesus. I have been enriched in everything by Him, in all utterance and all knowledge, even as His testimony was confirmed in me. I don't lack or come short in any gift because you have given me all I need. And I eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm me to the end, that I may be blameless in the day when I stand before my Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, you are faithful. And I have been brought into fellowship with you because of what Jesus Christ did for me. Thank You for all You have done for me!"
If that particular prayer doesn't work for you, then you might want to select some worship passages from scripture that do work for you. You don't have to read them each time you pray, but it is helpful read worship passages from God's word from time to time.
During this portion of prayer time, you may find worship music helpful. You might want to strum a guitar, put on worship tape or read sections of Scripture to remind yourself of God's goodness, His faithfulness and His wonderful promises to us. Some people may want to dance before the Lord as a part of their worship, and that is fine. Worship can be loud praise and celebration, even with shouting and clapping. It can also be very quiet, such as deep intimacy songs. Or it can even be things like taking popular songs and making up Christian words to sing to them, sort of like Whoopi Goldberg did in the movie "Sister Act."
You don't have to use music to worship effectively. At times I like to get very quiet and still before the Lord and sort of mentally review various experiences I have had with Him and various things He has done for me.
There is not a right way or a wrong way to worship. What works best for one person may not work for another. So, if you use music during the worship portion of your prayer, please try to select music that works for you, music that helps you enter into God's presence, to become mindful of Him.
There is a sample worship prayer:
"I pray to My Lord Jesus Christ, who died for my sins on Calvary and rose from the dead, defeating Satan and death. Thank you for loving me and forgiving me and thank You for giving eternal life to me. I also pray to God my Father Who loves me and I thank You for adopting me as Your own child. I also pray to the Holy Spirit Who empowered the early Church at Pentecost and now lives inside of me. Thank you for leading and guiding and teaching me every day."
Step 2 - Invite God to lead your prayer time
It is actually very Scriptural to do that. Ps 31:3 tells us, "For You are my rock an my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me." Ps 25:12 days, "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses." And Ps 37:23, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way."
God delights to lead and guide us in prayer. He wants to be deeply involved with us in the process. So invite the Holy Spirit to be present in your prayer time. Ask Him to lead and guide you as you pray. Give God permission to supercede your agenda and change the "syllabus" if He wants to. Ask Him to guard your mind during prayer; that He keep out things He does not want you praying about (or put a check in your spirit) and that He also brings up everything He wants to cover.
In short, invite God's leading and God's presence in your prayer time. Along with that, take authority over enemy interference during the prayer time. (If you are feeling particularly laden with guilt/condemnation, you may want to do step 3 before you do this authority prayer. Otherwise, it is good to do this prayer before you examine your heart with God. It does not have to be drawn out or fancy, and the precise words are not important. But you want to take authority over the enemy and forbid him to interfere in the prayer time. Here is a sample prayer:
In Jesus' name, through His power and authority, I forbid any enemy spirits to be involved in this prayer time. I take authority over this room and I command any spirits that do not willingly bow their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ to leave, right now. I forbid confusion or fear or condemnation to any other spirit to become involved in this prayer time.
Lord Jesus, I turn this prayer time over to you and I ask you to please lead it. Do not allow anything to happen here that is not lead of Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, please lead and guide me. Make me sensitive to Your will.. able to hear Your voice. Please alert me if I inadvertently wander into any area You do not want me to cover and please remind me of all that You do want to do here today.
I ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.